Gap Mangione grew up in Rochester in a household where music filled the house and musicians regularly joined the family for homemade pasta dinners followed by impromptu jazz sessions.

Mangione Brothers with Mama Mangione

Mangione Brothers perform for Mama Mangione

It’s no wonder Gap and his brother Chuck  were inspired to become musicians even before they left high school. Gap played piano and was writing and arranging music for local big bands by the time he was 15.  The two Mangione brothers became known as the Jazz Brothers, launching their illustrious careers in 1960 with an album of the same name.

Today, Gap still loves that big band sound and performs frequently with his full band for events such as Fairport Canal Days on June 5.  On other occasions, you can catch performances of his New Blues Band performing at Woodcliff and elsewhere in the region.

On Friday, June 12, Gap and his New Blues Quintet will open the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival with two headliner performances at 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Max of Eastman Place.

Gap & New Blues Band at RIJF 2007

Gap & New Blues Band at RIJF 2007

I was curious to get Gap’s insights, he being a native Rochester musician, about  the impact the Rochester International Jazz Festival has had.  Gap has been performing at the festival since its inception 8 years ago.

“The Festival is amazing!  At what other event could you find over 100,000 joyful people celebrating in the streets?” asked Gap.  “It’s really enhanced Rochester’s image as a music city.  We get not only the best musicians in the world performing here, but it also showcases high school bands,  giving encouragement to young musicians. The scholarship program that the festival underwrites is also really important.”

I asked him about the impact of the festival on emerging musicians.

“The festival has launched a lot of careers.  Look at Nora Jones, for example.  She plays the festival to a small crowd in an intimate venue one year and is so popular that, by the next year, she’s “gone gold” and is performing for hundreds of thousands. And that happens…often.”

“Part of this Festival’s success is due to  John (Nugent) and Marc (Ioconna).  Not only are they really talented musicians and savvy business men, but they’re the nicest guys in the world.  The festival really reflects their personalities.”

You can catch Gap Mangione and the New Blues Band’s performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on Friday, June 12 at 6:15 p.m. or 10 p.m. at Max of Eastman Place, located at 25 Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester.  Admittance by RIJF Club Pass or $20 single entry at the door.

CLICK HERE for Gap’s performance itinerary.

Photos courtesy Gap Mangione and photographer Josephine Mangione Shank.